Red Wings perplexed as they search for answers, victories

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Winnipeg, Manitoba — The look on Luke Glendening’s face pretty much told the story of where the Red Wings are right now.

This was after Tuesday’s 5-1 loss to Winnipeg, another rough evening for the Red Wings, who started fine but gave yet another game away in the second period with bad hockey.

The Jets' Anthony Bitetto (2) checks Red Wings defenseman Patrik Nemeth (22) during the third period Tuesday in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Detroit was too loose defensively, and didn't generating anything offensively.

It also happened to be the Red Wings’ 12th consecutive defeat. The losses are certainly piling up.

So, here was Glendening afterward, looking shell-shocked and perplexed. Angry. And at a loss for words.

“We expect better of ourselves,” said Glendening, one of the Wings’ alternate captains. “I apologize. I don’t have a lot (of answers). I feel like I keep saying the same thing. But it’s enough. We have to do something about it.”

The Wings have lost a lot lately, obviously, but Tuesday’s defeat seemed to hit a nerve.

The eerily similar way the Wings lost, allowing three goals in two minutes to see a 1-1 game deteriorate to 4-1 deficit, has been way too familiar.

When the opposing teams scores, the Wings’ seem to implode.

“We can’t seem to stop the bleeding,” Glendening said. “Once it starts we have a tough time slowing it down. Basically three shifts in a row, and part of that is we get stuck in our own zone and we’re too tired to get it (the puck) out.

There was a definite sense of frustration in the locker room. Coach Jeff Blashill mentioned the need for his team to regain its confidence and moxie.

“Obviously our goal differentiation is terrible,” said Blashill, noting the Wings have allowed 62 goals more than they’ve scored. “Right now, we have to find a way to win a hockey game. We have to find a way to get some confidence and moxie. We’re not a good enough team right now. The only people that can change that is us.

“There’s no secret answer.”

When things are as bleak as they appear right now, certainly speculation about the head coach becomes intensified.

Blashill is in his fifth season, with the Wings’ headed to a fourth consecutive season of missing the playoffs while also finishing with worst record in the NHL.

The Wings' current .274 winning percentage (7-22-3 record)  would rank third-worst all time in organization history — behind the 1985-86 team (17-57-6, .250 percentage) and the 1976-77 roster (16-55-9, .256 winning percentage).

Progress has stalled this season, and the pressure from fans on social media is boiling over, though general manager Steve Yzerman has done nothing but showed support toward the coaching staff.

“I get that,” said Blashill of the attention focused on him. “For me, all I’m doing is what I always do and that’s be solution-based and worry about what we can control. What we can control right now is learning from this game and make sure we are helping our team get better.

“Find solutions.”

The Wings could get back forward Andreas Athanasiou, who is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, Thursday against Winnipeg. Goaltender Jimmy Howard (mid-body) has begun some light drill work, too.

A common theme after the loss was the need for the Wings’ players to turn this around on their own, to not expect any help anywhere else.

And to do it soon, before this situation goes even more off the rails.

“When things go bad, they’re really bad right now,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “The injuries we’ve had, we don’t have an answer for that right now. But we need to find it. It’s not even Christmas yet and this has happened too many times.

“It’s not acceptable. But we have to find an answer, do it internally as a group. That’s what it comes down to right now.”

Jets at Red Wings

Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit

► TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit-plus/97.1 FM

Outlook: The Jets (19-10-2) defeated the Wings 5-1 Tuesday in the first game of the back-to-back. … The Jets are 8-2-1 in their last 11 games, while the Wings are winless in 12 games (0-10-2). … Commerce Township G Connor Hellebuyck (15-7-2, .933 SVS) is expected to start for Winnipeg

Twitter: @tkulfan